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Monday February 17th, 2020 10:32PM

One tough nut to crack

By Bill Maine Executive Vice President & General Manager

Given the choice between running over an armadillo or running off a cliff, I think most of us would take the armadillo. Unfortunately, the 104-year-old behind the wheel of a large recreation vehicle chose to let the armadillo live even thought swerving cost him his life and nearly cost the lives of his two friends riding with him. But that is to be expected when you let a nut behind the wheel.

When I learned of the loss of this great American icon, I was shell shocked. Why did Mr. Peanut have to die? He had been the brand mascot for Planters Nuts since 1912. I’m sure they have their reasons for running him off a cliff and dying in a fiery explosion. Of course, I’m referring to the Planters commercial that will run during the Super Bowl. It’s already on the internet, but what happens next has yet to be revealed. The killing of Mr. Peanut will air during the pregame. His funeral will air during the third quarter. No doubt their motive for this deadly deed will be revealed then or shortly thereafter.  

Mr. Peanut’s demise set my mind on other brand mascots that have made a name for themselves as well as the brands they represent. Folks like the Pillsbury Doughboy, Charlie Tuna and Mr. Peanut have made watching commercials as entertaining as watching the shows they sponsored. Sometimes they were even better than the shows. But these three have always bothered me just a bit.

That’s because they are encouraging us to eat them. Well, not them personally, just all their friends and family. I can’t be the only one bothered by the fact that Poppin’ Fresh (that’s the name on the Pillsbury Doughboy’s paycheck) is shoving the very stuff he’s made of into the oven. What does he tell his friends to get them to do the commercial?

“Come on guys. You’ll love it. It’s just a tanning bed. You’ll look great. Chicks dig a guy with a tan and a flaky crust.”

The same can be said for Charlie Tuna and Mr. Peanut. Although in Charlie’s case I think he has other issues. Why else would he always try to be caught? For some reason he always wanted to end up in the can. At least that’s the vibe he gave off. I think it was just a rouse to make the other tuna think he was with them. Seafood solidarity, if you will.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too hasty to paint them in such a light. It could be that the advertisers they rep have some sort of dirt on them and are using that to blackmail them into selling their own down the river. Advertising can be quite cutthroat.

I have questions about other brand mascots.

What’s up with the Jolly Green Giant? He has a kid named Sprout, but we never see Mrs. Giant. Does she exist? Is Jolly a single dad trying to raise his son alone?

The Kool-Aid man is a bit of a quandary too. Why doesn’t he shatter when he breaks through wall? I also wonder why those hot, sweaty kids didn’t jump on his back and attack him with straws. If he’d come to our neighborhood someone would have screwed a tap into his backside. Never underestimate the thirst of a hot, sweaty little kid. We can be quite inventive.

Some brand mascots can be annoying. Speedy, the mascot for Alka Seltzer, is one of them. After a couple of rounds of “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” in that high voice and I just want shove him into a glass of water. Hey buddy, see how it feels to be an indigestion first responder like the rest of your friends.

While I really like the Keebler elves, I must question their choice of a hollow tree as their base of operations. I’m not sure putting an oven inside a hollow tree is the best idea. I’ll bet they can’t get affordable fire insurance.

I do have to tip my hat to my favorite spokes candies. That would be the M&Ms guys. Yellow is my favorite, although Red has been known to do say some clever things. Best of all, they face the whole “eat my brethren” thing head on. So much so, that in one commercial they actually ate one of their fellow spokes candies. It was the Hazelnut M&M in what was to be his debut commercial. Oh well, you just can’t predict live television.

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